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On Golden Rules and Golden Ratios

ekawAediWFeb 4, 2019, 5:18:05 AM

We’ve all been told at some point to “Treat others the way you want to be treated”, or perhaps, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matt. 7:12). These are of course, versions of what’s known as “The Golden Rule” or the “Ethic of Reciprocity”.


And by the way, when I said we’ve all been told, I really did mean it:



"What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others."



यान्यस्माकँ सुचरितानि तानि त्वयोपास्यानि । नो इतराणि ।

“Those acts that you consider good when done to you, do those to others, none else.”

-Taittiriya Upanishad (Hinduism)


“The most righteous person is the one who consents for other people what he consents for himself, and who dislikes for them what he dislikes for himself.”

-Muhammad (Hadith - Islam)


Versions of the Golden Rule appear in Christianity (as quoted above), and also Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, in Buddhism, Taoism... (and the list goes on and on), but I digress.

At this point, dear reader, you might be thinking to yourself, “So what? Of what use is such a childish saying? I live in the real world, not some idealist utopia”, but, dear reader, this is where are you are mistaken.

You see, history is chock-full of examples where simple postulates explode into expansive and useful theories. For instance, the simple observation that, in any closed system, the total amount of energy is always held constant (i.e. the Conservation of Energy) gave rise to the entire field of physics known as Thermodynamics. Similarly, it was observed that when combusted, elements emit discrete bands of color instead of displaying all of the colors in the color spectrum. This hinted at the existence of a series of step-wise thresholds (or quanta) that elements mysteriously adhere to, giving rise to the field of Quantum Mechanics. In biology, the understanding that living cells come from previously living cells eventually led to the discovery of DNA and the ever important field of Genetics.

These are just a few examples, but the unifying idea here is that by starting with a very simple rule, we can algorithmically create vast networks of complexity never imagined from its humble beginnings. It is my belief that we stand today at the precipice of just such a time – where humanity can organize itself, completely organically with automatic checks and balances, into a state of equilibrium with our fellow humans as well as with our natural environment, simply by implementing the algorithm under discussion: The Golden Rule. A fancier name for it is the “Non-Aggression Principle”, but they mean essentially the same. Instead of living under a system dominated by fear – fear of repercussion, fear of imprisonment, fear of being made example of – we could live as we were meant to; as unquenchably curious and compassionate beings, full of agency and creativity, free from coercion and domination. Sure, we have our blemishes; nobody is denying that, but to take that sliver of our nature, the one that usually only manifests during times of great desperation or during life and death situations and to use it to characterize the entirety of our nature is to grossly misrepresent us.

If you’re still not convinced that simple rules like the Non-Aggression Principle can build upon themselves to take on lives of their own, let’s now turn to a visual demonstration given by the ever insightful, ever entertaining, ever creative Vi Hart, who likes to doodle in math class:

Part 1:



“It seems pretty cosmic and wondrous, but the cool thing about the Fibonacci series and spiral is not that it’s this big complicated mystical magical super math thing beyond the comprehension of our puny human minds that shows up mysteriously everywhere. We’ll find that these numbers aren’t weird at all. In fact, it would be weird if they weren’t there.

The cool thing about it, is that these incredibly intricate patterns can result from utterly simple beginnings.”

Part 2:



“That the Fibonacci Series is in so many things says less about those things and more about mathematics. I mean, that’s what mathematics is all about – simple rules, complex consequences. A process so easy, that even a plant can do it, can turn into these amazing structures all around us. Just like a few simple postulates can give us an incredibly powerful geometry.”

Part 3:



“Once it gets started, it’s a self perpetuating cycle. All that these flower bits are doing is growing where there’s the most room for them. The rest happens auto-math-ically.”

Part 3 very aptly described a set of mechanics that drive the creation of complex intricacies played out by individually motivated actors (in this case, “plant bits”), and the principle translates seamlessly to individually motivated humans. For, like the plant bits, humans are influenced by the availability of natural resources as well as the activities of other people. If left to our own devices, we will each carve out our individual niches within the context of greater society, such that when these niches begin interacting with each other voluntarily, they create the complex networks that form the fabric of a truly free, truly tolerant, pleuralistic society. So long as people mutually agree to adhere themselves to the Golden Rule, or the Non-Aggression Principle, this type of social arrangement will form naturally. It’s inevitable.

By now, you may be up in arms, objecting, “That would never happen naturally! Look around you, people are garbage! People are only selfish exploiters of nature and of other people and they can’t be trusted to do what’s right unless they are made to.”

Basically, if your argument is essentially that of Agent Smith’s from the Matrix movies:


Then here is my response:


Humans do not exist on the edge of total chaos and depravity, as the controllers of this world would have you believe. We are not savages at base, unlike what Hannah Arendt claims:

“Every generation, civilization is invaded by barbarians - we call them 'children'.”

The fact of the matter is that, above all else, human beings are malleable; our adaptability is both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. With it, we can and have overcome every obstacle we have yet faced, drawing from the limitless power of our ingenuity; and with it, we also succumb to the yolks of those who, for millennia, sought to domesticate us. If we allow ourselves to be convinced that our children are nothing but barbarians, and we begin treating them as such, of course that is what they will become. If we believe similarly for ourselves, then we too begin to take the form and the mannerisms of savages. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Julian Simon, professor of Business and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institutue, points to a study that found that people, on average, are generally good natured and create more resources than they consume throughout their lives:


The same indoctrination that teaches you that you are a terrible person is also the one teaching you that no order, no goodness, no morality can arise without the State. You yourself become part of that machine when you view your own children as savages and begin teaching them to find salvation in authority. The State wants you in this condition. It needs your mind to fix itself into perpetual infancy. It cannot have you acting as an individual with agency. The State needs all of these things because it cannot function without your complacency; without your cooperation, it cannot exist at all. They siphon your productivity, harvesting it for purposes unknown to you and unapproved by you – oftentimes, using your very labor against you in the form of unwarranted surveillance and suffocating your free will.

They do all of this, while contributing nothing in return. No productivity is ever generated directly by the State - they simply take credit for the productivity of others. Everything beneficial they lay their hands on is mired by inefficiency, secrecy and incompetency, and more often than not, their actions are outright harmful to human health, arbitrarily administering supposedly medicinal substances into the population without their knowledge or permission, or simply by killing people through their endless, unjustified and pointless wars.

The State is the singlemost oppressive force in your life and the biggest bane to your existence – but the solution is so simple that it’s almost comical. Just revoke your permission, and they will fade away. You don’t have to take up arms (though it's always a good idea to be able to defend yourself), you don’t have to march in the streets, you don’t even have to get rid of anybody. Their words are meaningless if they fall on deaf ears, as are their threats. Rest assured knowing that the entire balance of power lies with you, and not them.

You’ve had it all along.


He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands, only one body, no more than is possessed by the least man among the infinite numbers dwelling in your cities; he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves? You sow your crops in order that he may ravage them, you install and furnish your homes to give him goods to pillage; you rear your daughters that he may gratify his lust; you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows — to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance; you yield your bodies unto hard labor in order that he may indulge in his delights and wallow in his filthy pleasures; you weaken yourselves in order to make him the stronger and the mightier to hold you in check.

From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.

--Étienne de la Boétie,

Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, 1548


Investigate Further:

Larken Rose on Voluntaryism

You Become What You Think About - Earl Nightingale

How to Herd Your Tax Cattle - The CorbettReport

Solutions: Agorism - The CorbettReport

More on the Golden Ratio

The Silver Ratio

Notes and References - Vi Hart